It may sound odd to fans of Premier League clubs but I, as a Newcastle fan, quite enjoy the Championship. 2009/10 was great and this time around it has been no different. Teams come to St James Park with fear and us as fans go to matches with expectation, an alien concept to us Geordies, it’s rather unnatural. However, there is one thing missing from this league for Newcastle, and that’s supporter rivalry.
Gone are the days, for the foreseeable future anyway, of turning up to a home match, trying to out sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” or singing “He turned you down” (in reference to your hero and mine Alan Shearer) to those insufferable Manchester United fans who always return the favour of reminding us he was manager when we got relegated back in the day, but we won’t talk about that. Even seemingly unremarkable chants factually stating how Chelsea always cheat or how Tony Pulis is just a you-know-what in a tracksuit are missing in the Sky Bet Championship.
I love watching Newcastle win, of course. However, what made victories in the Premier League slightly more special was knowing you could sing about the opposition, to the opposition and come away with a victory in the stands as well. It’s almost impossible to do that this season. Trying to ensure I don’t sound disrespectful, but I simply don’t care about 22 of the other teams in this league (Villa being the odd one out.) I’m happy beating good sides such as Brentford and Ipswich but I don’t feel obliged to join in with a chanting battle against them. Even when Dwight Gayle scored that dramatic winning goal against Norwich, I felt no desire to gloat to the away fans. However, I know if that goal had been scored against any Premier League side that would have been the first thing to have entered my mind.
I can’t describe why this occurs. Maybe it’s the higher prestige matches that happen in the Premier League. Maybe it’s the unpredictability of the league. Maybe I view Newcastle’s rivals not as Brighton or Huddersfield but Manchester United or Liverpool. Maybe it’s that every victory gives us more points than Sunderland. Whatever the reasons for this, I know I have missed this “friendly” rivalry between fans and I hope it can return to St James Park next season.
Featured image credit: Yellow Book LTD